Scientists, fans gather in Tempe to explore the Lucy, Psyche missions and the university's role in each
Sometimes it's OK to get a little starry-eyed.
That was the case Monday night in Tempe at the Discovery Mission Celebration of the Psyche and Lucy missions, where scientists, support staff and guests explored Arizona State University's roles in Psyche — the first ASU-led deep-space mission — and Lucy, which will carry an instrument designed and built on campus. The mood was festive and focused on possibilities.
ASU President Michael Crow addressed the crowd of about 200 people before a panel discussion, saying that by our nature, “we are all explorers.”
“We want to know,” he said. “We want to know everything.”
The Psyche Mission will explore a metallic asteroid that may be the core of an early planet, giving us a glimpse into what may lie at the core of Earth.
“We’ve never visited a metal world, and we’ve never seen Psyche as anything other than a speck of light,” said School of Earth and Space Exploration Director Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the mission's principal investigator.
The Lucy Mission, which will investigate Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, will carry a thermal emission spectrometer designed and built at ASU. Regents' Professor Phil Christensen is the instrument's designer and principal investigator; he discussed Monday evening how the ability to build space instruments on campus allows us to pique the interest of students and the community.
See more of the sights and sound bytes in the slideshow below.
Event goers socialize in the exhibit-filled area outside the Marston Exploration Theater in ISTB4 on ASU's Tempe campus on Monday night. The School of Earth and Space Exploration has been around for only 10 years, but it is in an elite class of schools, capable of building flight instruments on campus and participating in 14 missions.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
From left: Astronomy Professor Jim Bell, who is part of the Psyche Mission team; Associate Research Professional Ernest Cisneros; and ASU President Michael Crow look at the 3-D-printed model of the Psyche asteroid. Visitors to the Discovery Mission Celebration got to examine models of asteroids and interact with the scientists.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
“This is a daring couple of missions,” Ferran Garcia-Pichel, dean of Natural Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said at the start of the presentation. “NASA in choosing these two missions has been equally daring.”Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
“We need to be explorers,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “We need to inspire exploration.”Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
The Lucy Mission will carry an ASU-designed and -developed thermal emission spectrometer, which will measure surface temperatures on each asteroid the spacecraft visits. Regents' Professor Phil Christensen is the instrument's designer and principal investigator; of the 27 engineers on his instrument team, 10 are ASU graduates.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
As principal investigator for Psyche, School of Earth and Space Exploration Director Lindy Elkins-Tanton is the second woman in history to lead a NASA deep-space mission. Psyche contains metals worth 100,000 times the gross domestic product of Earth, she told the crowd. “One of these days we’ll be up there mining asteroids,” she said. “This is absolutely a precursor to commercial activity.”Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
“There aren’t many classes of objects in the solar system we haven’t seen up close,” said Jim Bell (second from left), deputy principal investigator on the Psyche Mission. “This is one of them.”Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
After the panel discussion, which included a range of questions from the audience, the scientists autograph posters for attendees amid a celebratory atmosphere.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Top photo: Panel moderator Ferran Garcia-Pichel (left) asks a question of panelists Dave Williams, Jim Bell, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Phil Christensen, Henry Stone and Pete Lord at the Discovery Mission Celebration of Psyche and Lucy missions Monday in Tempe. Williams is the Psyche Mission co-investigator; Bell is the Lucy Mission co-investigator; Elkins-Tanton is the Psyche Mission principal investigator; Christensen is the Lucy Mission's thermal emissions spectrometer principal investigator; Stone is with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is the Psyche Mission Project Manager; and Lord is with Space Systems Loral and is the deputy program manager. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now